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The purpose of the Human Resources (HR) function has changed enormously during the last fifty years or so. HR was once primarily regarded as a predominantly administrative and record-keeping department. However, the majority of forward-thinking organizations now see their HR team as a key contributor toward business success. This article will take a closer look at what strategic human resource management is and how it can partner with the business for the best results in a competitive market place.
Before we start breaking down the HR strategy, it is important to define strategic human resource management. A good strategic HR definition is the link between an organization’s vision, objectives, and goals, as well as the activities of one of its core resources—its employees (also known as its human capital). Strategic human resources management (strategic HRM) can have several different purposes or objectives depending on the specific business.
In general, it aims to drive successful business performance by recruiting, developing, and retaining the best talent in the market to give the organization a competitive advantage. The purpose is also to develop and maintain an organizational culture that is progressive and conducive to business needs.
Of course, there are still many transactional aspects involved in the HR function, from dealing with payroll and contracts to compliance and employee relations. Effective strategic resource management aims to work alongside these necessary HR processes to help the business achieve its broader goals.
Strategic HRM and HR goals are not static entities within a business. By their very nature, they must evolve constantly to ensure that they are well connected to the company’s wider strategy. So, you should not only align your current HR trends and best practices to your organization but also make sure it lines up with progressive HR trends.
One of the biggest trends in the last five years has been the concept of talent management—essentially the goal of recruiting and crucially, retaining the best employees in the market. Talent management, therefore, incorporates traditional aspects of HR such as recruitment, onboarding, performance management, and succession. It ensures that employees have the optimum skills and experience to contribute positively to business operations and are well motivated and rewarded to stay with the organization long term.
Re-focusing your organization’s HR function to be more strategic can have so many benefits, but it is not something that can be done overnight. Careful strategic HR planning and thorough execution are key to success.
Here are our top seven steps to put in place a strategic HRM process in your business:
To align your HR strategy to the wider business one, you must understand it thoroughly, with a particular focus on the parts of the strategy that HR management has the potential to contribute toward most effectively.
It is crucial that the senior leadership team of the business not only defines the goals and objectives, but also communicates them effectively to the whole business. This way, everybody understands the part they can play in organizational success and can align their own work accordingly.
The next step is to evaluate the performance of your existing HR team to better understand the capability and skills that you have within, and therefore what opportunities there are to add value in different areas.
There are a ton of ways to carry out this process. Naturally, the performance review process is a great place to start, but you do not have to wait for the scheduled biannual review. Make a start on some effective skills and competency framework assessments with the team to see where strengths and opportunities lie.
The analysis exercise outlined in step two will also help you see where your skills gaps are. It will help you decide whether you need to recruit additional resources into the HR team to help support the strategic human resource management process.
Looking at your current HR function capability is important, but this is only a snapshot of the present situation. A vital part of strategic human resource management is looking ahead at the business strategy and planning how HR can support and partner with the business to meet its objectives.
There are two key elements to be considered in this forecasting exercise—supply and demand. Supply relates to the employees that are already in the business and what opportunities exist within their skillset. Demand considers what the requirement might be in the future in terms of desired or necessary HR skills.
Once you have determined the skillset of your current and future employees, the next critical step within the strategic HRM process is to work in partnership with each business department to establish the following:
a) the HR tools that provide teams the best opportunities for working effectively and
b) to what extent the organization already utilizes such tools or what investments might need to be made in the future.
This is important because although it is a widely held view that employees’ skills and experience contribute the most toward business success, without the appropriate tools (e.g., IT hardware and software) to perform their roles, they will not realize their full potential.
Now that you have completed the crucial preparatory work, it is time to outline your main HR strategic goals and implement your strategy. A big part of this step of the strategic human resource management process is to begin the recruitment of staff to fill the gaps in personnel that is impacting your organization’s ability to grow and thrive.
It is also crucial to communicate your HR strategy and goals, both within the HR team and across the whole business, so that it becomes fully integrated into everyday business operations.
The hard work does not stop at the implementation stage of strategic human resource management. As business needs and priorities constantly change, you must review the effectiveness of your HR strategy and ensure that it is contributing positively toward business success.
If you are thinking of taking a more strategic focus towards HR, begin by undertaking a robust evaluation of the tasks, activities, priorities, and successes of your HR function. Doing this will establish how strategic each element is and what opportunities exist to better integrate its work to the wider organizational goals.
All-in-one HR tools like Kissflow HR Cloud will help you conduct a clear analysis of your existing HR function and identify HR strategy gaps that you need to work on. Best of all, it will not only help you move from administrative HR to strategic HR but also enable you to form an HR strategy that aligns completely with your organization’s key goals and objectives.